“Marine spatial planning (MSP) is a public process of analysing and allocating the spatial and temporal distribution of human activities in marine areas to achieve ecological, economic and social objectives that have been specified through a political process” (IOC-UNESCO).
Compared to land use planning, MSP is a fairly new and emerging process in the Mediterranean Region. In general, the process is at its initial stage and is highly influenced by differences among countries, related to their institutional and legal framework, as well as the availability of reliable knowledge base. With the adoption of the EU Directive on Maritime Spatial Planning (2014/89/EU), all coastal EU Member States are required to prepare cross-sectoral maritime spatial plans by 2021, aimed at promoting the sustainable growth of maritime economies, the sustainable development of marine areas and the sustainable use of marine resources.
Following the emerging need to introduce MSP in the entire Mediterranean Region, the 20th Meeting of the Contracting Parties to the Barcelona Convention (COP 20 - Tirana, Albania 2017) adopted the Conceptual Framework for Marine Spatial Planning as a guiding document to facilitate the introduction of this management tool into the Barcelona Convention framework, with the aim to:
Therefore, MSP is being introduced within the Barcelona Convention System, as the main tool/process for the implementation of ICZM in the marine part of the coastal zone, thus contributing to the balance between environmental, social and economic dimensions of sustainable development.